Thursday, November 10, 2011
8-3-3: Step & The Slovak
Last season we saw Derek Stepan find a nice chemistry with Mats Zuccarello. The two complimented each other and clearly made each other comfortable as they worked through their first season on Broadway. The only problem with that pairing was that it became predictable - for all of the hard work and pretty passing, there was no finishing. Teams quickly learned that Zuke would not shoot the puck and adjusted accordingly.
Well, now Zuke is shooting a bit more but he is doing it in the bus league alongside fellow Lilliputian Jonathan Audy-Marchessault. Stepan, meanwhile, is making the most of his time with Marian Gaborik. Tortorella's use of the Tom Renney line generator finally worked out as Step has started clicking with the Slovakian sniper. The two have found the most elusive of Ranger qualities - chemistry. Let's hope it is more the forging of steel rather than the quick explosion of a baking soda volcano.
*You can dislike Sean Avery all you like but you really should respect the lengths he is going to prove he belongs in the NHL. Avery took on Zenon Konopka in the first period, answering the bell for the Wolski/Alfredsson collision (I still think it wasn't an elbow). Was it a good fight? No. Did Avery win? No. But he stepped up for his teammates against the most prolific fighter in the NHL. Because Torts is Torts Avery ended up with nearly as many minutes in the penalty box as he did on the ice but it doesn't matter. Avery answered the bell. Hope he doesn't get gaffe from the boss for being on the ice when the Sens scored their second goal of the night - if not for the evil cloud of Shanabans looming over the NHL right now, Avery would have hammered Bobby Butler before Butler pitchforked the puck into the Ranger end, setting up the Nick Foligno goal.
*There was one other fight in this one, Andre Deveaux against Jared Cowen. Cowen, the coward, picked the fight off the faceoff and kept his helmet and visor on. An utterly despicable move. Major points to Deveaux for picking his punches instead of firing away at the pathetic joke of a hockey player Cowen. While he is still a bit too slow of foot for my tastes, Deveaux has been a solid addition to the team - one far better than Brashear/Boogey/Rupp ...
*Love the poppies for Remembrance Day.
*Love Paul MacLean's mustache.
*Hate that the Sens are called 'Ottawa" when they play in Kanata, a suburb a half hour away. That is almost as egregious as calling the NFL teams the New York Jets and the New York Giants when they both play in New Jersey.
*Arty: the post? Really? Anderson gave him so much space to shoot at during his first period breakaway but the kid blew it. Admittedly it is just one of the few complaints about his play of late: he has just one goal this season despite a slew of chances.
*And on that note, Brandon Dubinsky. Anyone else think Dubi spent too much time this summer celebrating his new contract?
*Really not sure what caused the correction that brought Brian Boyle back to being a big nothing of a player but it stinks. His hot hand died down in the middle of last season but he was still effective. Now he is dragging Prust and Feds down with him.
*Girardi and McDonagh played around 28 minutes a piece. Against Ottawa. The Ottawa Senators. Not a division rival. Not even one of the top teams in the conference. They admittedly were rock solid against the Sens but Torts is burning these guys out and it isn't even Thanksgiving yet.
*Milan Michalek had one goal in seven games against the Rangers before the start of this campaign. He has three in two this season. Somebody hit that guy.
*Not long after starting this blog I floated the idea of dealing Gomez for Spezza. While Bob Gainey's goof of a trade has certainly paid dividends for the Rangers, seeing Spezza shine always annoyed me an extra bit. Perhaps Brad Richard$ will keep improving into the skillful center the Rangers need but tonight Spezza was better.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Milan Michalek - one goal.
2-Derek Stepan - one goal and two assists.
1-Marian Gaborik - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - 29 saves and no softies allowed in yet another solid start.
2-Erik Karlsson - While Del Zaster has been improving of late, seeing just how smooth and skilled this Swede is is infuriating. Karlsson eats up minutes and deftly moves the puck.
1-Stepan/Gabby/Arty - The whole line deserves to be honoured after another great game.